PDVSA Extends Deltana Loan Agreement

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA has extended a loan agreement with BNP Paribas and Credit Industriel et Commercial to finance part of the operations of the Pride Venezuela drilling rig in the offshore Deltana shelf, PDVSA said in a statement Monday.

The loan agreement, signed in August 2002, is guaranteed by French export development agency Coface. The loan is designed to pay 85% of the cost of hiring the Pride Venezuela, to a maximum amount of US$19.6mn. PDVSA hired the rig from French company Pride Foramer in December 2001. PDVSA has invested US$180mn in exploring the Deltana platform to date and has discovered 7.6 billion cubic feet of proved, probable and possible natural gas reserves, the statement said.

The Deltana platform is estimated to have about 38 billion cubic feet of gas reserves. PDVSA awarded Deltana blocks 2 and 4 to US company ChevronTexaco and Norway's Statoil respectively in February, and 13 companies have signed the framework agreement for the development of blocks 3 and 5, which PDVSA plans to award in December.

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